I was so excited about making shrubs for this month's Mixology Monday hosted by Mr. Muddle that I couldn't stop with just one. My garden is producing gigantic cucumbers faster than I can find ways to use them, so there was no way one of them wasn't going to end up in a shrub.
If you missed yesterday's post, check out the You Say Tomato for a little info on shrubs. These mixtures of fruit, sugar, and vinegar are deliciously tangy and make great additions to cocktails and mocktails. They're perfect for this month's theme of vinegar.
I felt like my tomato shrub came out a little too sweet, so I knew to use a bit less sugar for this cucumber shrub. I opted for champagne vinegar, which I thought would work well with the lighter flavor of the cucumbers. White wine vinegar would be another good option, but I don't recommend using regular white vinegar - its flavor is pretty harsh, and apparently it's not the best choice for shrubs.
It's important to taste your shrub as you go along, especially when adding the vinegar, so you don't overdo it. I think I nailed proportions with this one. It's sweet and tangy and refreshing. Shrubs are definitely going to be a regular addition to my cocktails from now on!
Cucumber Shrub1 lb. cucumber, diced
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup champagne vinegar
Stir cucumber and sugar together in a bowl. Cover with a dish towel and let it sit on the counter for 48 hours, stirring once a day. The cucumbers will release a lot of water. After two days, strain the mixture into a cup measure. Mine made about 1 2/3 cup of syrup. I poured off the extra 2/3 of a cup and set it aside to adjust the final mixture. To the remaining 1 cup of syrup, add 1/4 cup champagne vinegar one tablespoon at a time, tasting as you go. If the shrub becomes too vinegary, add some more syrup.
Recipe adapted from Food52.
As with the You Say Tomato, I wanted to keep this cocktail pretty simple and let the flavor of the shrub shine. I thought tequila and mint would work well with the tangy cucumber shrub. I was surprised by how much it blended with the other ingredients; whereas the tomato shrub in the You Say Tomato is front and center, in this recipe it more subtly enhances the cocktail with tart and savory notes. You can't go wrong with these flavors in the summertime. This is an utterly refreshing, completely delicious drink.
Cool as A...1 1/2 oz. tequila blanco
1 oz. cucumber shrub
1/4 oz. lime juice
1/4 oz. agave syrup
6 mint leaves
2 oz. club soda
Combine mint leaves and agave syrup in a shaker and muddle gently. Add tequila, cucumber shrub, and lime juice. Fill shaker with ice and shake the mixture until it's well chilled. Strain into a rocks glass filled with ice. Top with club soda and stir gently. Garnish with a cucumber ribbon and a sprig of mint.